Anti-corruption activist dies from acid attack in Ukraine
Anti-corruption activist Kateryna Handzyuk died last Sunday after undergoing 11 operations for acid burns. Handzyuk had been investigating police graft and political corruption in Kherson when a man doused her in sulphuric acid outside her home last July. From her hospital bed, she called for investigations into the attack and continued her anti-corruption campaign.
Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko condemned the attack and demanded the attackers be brought to justice. At least five suspects, one of whom is a former police officer believed to have led the attack, have been arrested. Local protesters and European officials worry violence is increasingly being used against civil society. Hundreds of supporters protested outside the interior ministry in Kiev after news spread of Handzyuk’s death.
The EU commissioner for European neighbourhood and enlargement negotiations, Johannes Hahn, tweeted, “Attacks against #civilsociety activists are unacceptable. The perpetrators of this vicious crime must be brought to justice.”
Ukrainian activist and veteran Vitaly Oleshko died the same day as Handzyuk. He had been shot in the back with a hunting rifle after speaking out against government corruption in his home city, Berdyansk.
President dissolves parliament in Sri Lanka
Last Friday, Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena dissolved the country’s parliament in a move critics say was unconstitutional. Controversy also surrounds the president’s decision in late October to dismiss prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe. The president chose former president Mahinda Rajapaksa, who has a long history of nepotism and human rights abuses, to be Wickremesinghe’s successor. “We will be fighting this to ensure that democracy reigns supreme in the country,” tweeted Wickremesinghe’s United National Party.
Major governments, including the United States, have refused to recognize the new government as legitimate. The United States and India also worry that Sri Lanka may be a gateway for rising influence from China. The country is in massive debt to China, and a Sri Lankan port was recently relinquished to Chinese control.
Fight in Yemen risks further humanitarian crisis
The fight in Yemen grew as the Saudi-led coalition redoubled its efforts to seize the Houthi-controlled city of Hudaydah last week. Aid workers and Western officials warn that an attack on the city, which is a gateway for over 75 percent of international relief for the war, could mean a humanitarian disaster.
Saudi-led militias nearly encircle the city; warplanes and attack helicopters barrage Houthi positions. Houthi rebels often hide supplies or position themselves near no-strike zones to avoid airstrikes, but they risk turning sites like hospitals into legitimate targets. The United Nations warns that 14 million people are at risk of starvation if Yemen’s crisis continues.
The violence has come as United States defense secretary Jim Mattis urged both sides to begin peace talks within 30 days. Critics say Saudi Arabia may be trying to gain more territory before beginning negotiations.
United Nations Peace Envoy Martin Griffiths texted reporters, “Any military escalation does not help efforts to relaunch the political process … No one wants to see a catastrophe in Hudaydah.”
Graduating student leaves weekly column in Tulsa
At the University of Tulsa, graduating student Nate Gibbons wrote his final article for the Collegian newspaper. The 23-year-old student reflected.
“To various degrees, I’ve worked for the paper for the past four and a half years,” he said, adding, “It always paid okay.” He also left some advice for new students, saying, “I think everyone even partially interested in journalism should try to write for The Collegian at least once.